Thursday, February 23, 2017

31 - The Perfect Bible?

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The Bible

Before we start our study of the New Testament it is important to first lay the foundation by stating my stance on how a person might view the place and authority of the Bible. We will take two posts to do that.

Many years ago, when I was a student in Bible college, I was young enough and foolish enough to believe that everything the teachers told us must be true because they could always verify their statements with Bible verses.  What I did not realise is that, by taking Bible phrases out of context, any teaching can be substantiated by the Bible. 


It was not until after I graduated that I realised that. Then I started doing my own studies and my own thinking about what the Bible teaches.


The Bible claims that God inspired the Bible, but saying the Bible is inspired is not the same thing as saying that the Bible is perfect.  The Roman Catholic Church does not claim infallibility for the Bible; that doctrine came with the Reformation.  Until about 50 years ago many Bible teachers taught that the Bible is word perfect, some even believe it in our day. They insist that it says exactly what God wants it to say.  In the last number of years, Bible teachers have come a long way from that stance. 

The King James Version

 If one insists that the Bible is word perfect one must, of course, decide which translation is the perfect one.  For many years, countless people insisted that the King James Version was the only Bible that was word perfect.  If that is true, it would go without saying that, only after James was crowned king of England, did the world have a perfect Bible and even so the perfect Bible was available only to English speaking people!                                                                                                                                                                                               

How could any version of the Bible be verbatim the Word of God?  Every translation is different, in words and meaning than the writings were when the Bible was first assembled. 

However, this fact certainly does not mean that we shouldn't use the Bible as our guide and instructor.


An Old Bible

The Bible has served society well over the centuries

Lately, there has been a whole horde of new translations, and what is so upsetting about that fact is that the translators add their own theological bent to certain Bible portions. 

Surely, people have a right to their beliefs and opinions but it is absolutely wrong for anyone to rewrite the Bible so that it will foster their own theological viewpoint. For now, one example will suffice to make my point.
                                                                                                                                                             
Back in the fourth century, when the doctrine of the trinity was being heatedly debated, Jerome was translating the Greek Bible into the Douay translation and without any scriptural backup he added words to 1 John 5:7.  The words he added clearly support the doctrine of the trinity.  His plan was to, finally, end the debate about the trinity.  This kind of gimmickry has been going on a lot, especially in some of the newer translations.  I will point out some of them in our studies.

Muslims believe that if the Koran is translated from the Arabian, in which it was first written, it ceases to be "the word of Allah".  In this matter, the Christian church might do well to learn from them.  It seems as if in Christendom every man and his neighbour feels free to take it upon themselves to translate the Bible, to add their own opinions to the "holy text" and still call it the sacred scriptures.


The Bible makes the claim for itself that holy man of God who were moved by the holy spirit, wrote it.  That statement, of course, does not say that the Bible is absolutely without error.  It says only that Jehovah did His part in making the Bible; when we consider that the other part was done by humans it is easy to believe that the Bible, most likely, is not perfect.


Honest, upright people, who were interested in sharing their history, cultural leanings and spiritual insights with their fellow countrymen, wrote it!  At the time they were writing, they had no idea that someday their writings would be thought of as “holy books".


It is easy to believe that sometimes they inserted "facts" or ideas which, to them seemed to be relevant, but which had little to do with the history that they were writing or the things that we consider to have spiritual implications. 

Here is an illuminating statement; the recording of history with literal exactness of detail is a fairly modern development. At the time when the Bible was being written, precise fact was far less important than the spiritual message of the stories shared. Jesus and His Times published by the Readers Digest


Surely, the inspiration of the Bible was an act of God, or, is it more accurate to say, "God still inspires the Bible"?  It is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16


Let's not force it into a man-made mold.  The Word of God is not our servant so that the Bible’s teachings have to fit into the boxes we have built for our own ideas! 

The Bible does not need to fit our theology, our theology, regardless of what we like to believe, must fit the Bible!  When once we set the Bible free from our tenacious grasp we will find that it all makes a lot more sense.


The next post will continue this topic.